HomeOTHEREPLCity Defence: Attacking Full-Backs

City Defence: Attacking Full-Backs

One of the features of the systems that Roberto Mancini deploys – be it the 2010/11 possession control model or this years more expansive version is the responsibility he places on the full-backs in the side.

With the partnership of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott as the central pairing  shielded by Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong (with Yaya Toure and James Milner able to fill in when required) both full-backs are expected to possess the attacking threat to combine  and create in the attacking third but, and this remains key, also to be adroit defensively.

Throughout last season the Italian never quite found the mix with his full-back pairing and it wasn’t even until the second half of the campaign that Micah Richards made the position his own, whilst Aleksandar Kolarov never fully settled into the position on the left hand side. However, Mancini may now have found his pairing in Richards and new signing Gael Clichy, who, whilst barely gaining a column inch let along a headline following another attacking display against Wigan on Saturday, were both excellent as their numbers illustrate:

Richards

Clichy

Passing

32/35

38/40

Pass %

91%

95%

Key Passes

0

3

Crosses

1/4

1/3

Chances

0

3

Shots

2

0

Tackles

4/6

2/2

Possession

9/11

3/5

Aerial

1/1

1/1

Interceptions

1

1

Further evidence of this is in this Guardian Chalkboards, which highlight in particular their contribution in the opposition half. Granted that in a side containing attacking delights in the form of Silva, Aguero and Nasri (not to mention Adam Johnson and Carlos Tevez who also started Saturday) there ability to motor up and down each flank should in no be underestimated and it is important to note that as impressive as there numbers were from an offensive standpoint, they in no way shirked responsibility in the defensive zone either.

Although Mancini has plenty of cover throughout the squad, full-back has been one of the areas he was yet to quite settle upon his best pairing. Last season also saw Jerome Boateng, Pablo Zabaleta (on both sides) and Wayne Bridge all see action in addition to Richards, with none truly staking a claim for a permanent spot.

With Mancini again favouring a central trio in midfield, this leaves space either side for full-backs to exploit – vital if City are then to utilise the possession they have effectively in terms of then creating (and converting) opportunities, something that at times they failed to do against sides who looked to frustrate them.

Finally though, Mancini looks to have found his pairing and the returns are already beginning to be seen.

dannypugsley
dannypugsleyhttp://www.bitterandblue.com
Managing Editor of SBNation's Manchester City blog 'Bitter and Blue' and author of 'Man City 365'.
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